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By Peter West

My loyal readers will of course doubt the veracity of the story that follows. Regretfully it did happen some four years ago and was for some time the subject of entertaining litigation.

My dear wife and I had just moved to a new home on a rural acre in the hills above a certain city. I called the local newspaper delivery contractor to order the local and national papers:

"Klutz" said the voice on the phone. "Pardon" I replied, wondering if this guy is referring to me or himself. "Klutz Van Thatch" said the voice. I paused a moment to come to grips with the fact that I am about to do business with a guy who's prepared to go through life with a name like that. Why the hell didn't he change it to something less insane, like Elmo Van Fartworthy. Then I realise which nationality he is and that explains it to my compete satisfaction, so I ordered the papers..

Morning One: Not a sign of a paper. I phone the guy and we go through the "Klutz" routine followed by apologies.

Morning Two: I find one paper, not the two I've ordered. more of the "Klutz Van Thatch" routine and more apologies.

Morning Three: No papers. I phone Van Thatch to complain and he explains that his son Mutz Van Thatch will take a few weeks to get used to the new addition on his rounds. I tell him a trained ape could do a better job than Klutz and Mutz. He spits, shouts and stamps his feet so I cancel the papers. This really dies it! He claims that no-one has ever cancelled a paper with Klutz and Mutz Van Thatch and announces his intention to arrive on my doorstep in the next ten minutes. I advise against this course of action but it's too late as he's hung up.

I stroll across the property to our chicken run where I am building a fence to protect the occupants from foxes and the like. We were given a number of fowls by a friend and my dear wide asks me to find out how many we've got while I am out there. I do a quick count and start erecting the fence when who appears but Klutz. He carries a newspaper and he's shaking with rage. "This was in a tree out near the road!" he shouts and belts me across the face with seven-hundred adds for used cars, three pages of personal columns and eight "cat in a tree" stories.

So I pick him up and throw him into the fowl house where he crash lands on several chickens. he staggers to his feet and stumbles away swearing to sue me for a number of unspecified crimes. Only after Klutz Van Thatch is gone do I realise he's killed several fowls. That's when my dear wife points out the moral of the unfortunate incident.

"Don't count your chickens before they're Thatched. let some else make a Klutz of himself."

(Copyright P. West 9/8/99)